Monday, October 31, 2016

Don't Leave Home Without It

I've learned that taking a break and getting outside during the school day will usually improve my productivity, and so today, when I finally completed setting up my account for the free bike share membership they are giving school employees this year, my brain break involved hiking up to the nearest metro stop, picking up my key, grabbing a bike, and riding on back to school where I dropped it off at the rec center bike station.

Round trip? 45 minutes.

Clearer head? Priceless.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wonder Woman

Since I don't have any children of my own, creating Halloween costumes has never been a necessary skill.

I think I stepped up quite nicely, though:


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pokemon Go Away

I recently read that Pokemon Go is waning in popularity. Personally, I'm not surprised. I lost interest in the game within 48 hours. And yet, as we strolled through the packed FDR Memorial on this gorgeous October afternoon, we noticed that granite walls, tumbling falls, bronze statues, and inspirational words were all forsaken by a vast parade of people focused solely on their smart phones.

"Wow! There must be a lot of Pokemon here," I said to Heidi.

She turned those big blue eyes at me and arched her eyebrows meaningfully. "Ya think?"

Friday, October 28, 2016

Off and On the Clock

I had my annual physical today, and so I took sick leave. That meant that I was at school until 6 yesterday evening pulling everything together for my students and team today, as well as preparing for Monday. Even so, I brought home a heavy bag full of papers to grade and books to read in anticipation of the next unit of the new writing thing we're piloting.

Everything went fine at the doctor, and when I got home Heidi and I walked to a nearby community center to cast our in-person absentee ballots. (We will be in Buffalo the day before the election, and lord knows we've been stranded there before!) On the way back, we stopped at the garden where we were surprised by at least 10 pounds of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers ready to pick.

Once home again, I checked my email and messages and ended up spending the next three hours working on school-related correspondence, which included several emails, 2 newsletters, and three surveys (you can imagine my candor). I got up to stretch at 5 PM, and wondered where that day "off" had gone.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Sorting iPad

It spilled over from home room.

"What Hogwarts house are you?" asked one of my students. "I'm always Hufflepuff no matter what!" she continued in frustration, 'I want to be Gryffindor."

I shrugged. "I'm probably Ravenclaw," I said. "Not to brag, but I am pretty smart," I winked.

"You should take the quiz right now!" she said, and so I did, quickly clicking through my choices of animals, leisure activity, Triwizard Tournament challenges, artwork, and so on.

"I'm..." I looked at her with raised eyebrows, "wait for it... wait for it... Gryffindor!" I announced in my best Sorting Hat voice.

She gasped, and we were still talking about it when the class changed. First period is reading, and most of the students were very interested in our conversation. The Harry Potter series is definitely regaining popularity with my students, both with the release of the Cursed Child and the fact that these sixth graders were too young to enjoy either the books or the movies the first time around. It really seems to be proof that the series is a classic.

"Can we try it, too?" several kids asked, and in a split second decision, I decided that it was an engaging activity somewhat related to reading. Even the students who were unfamiliar with the series wanted to take the quiz, and then they had lots of questions about the books for their friends who had read it.

Some kids tried taking the quiz more than once to rig their results, and their analysis of the questions and how they related to the houses of Hogwarts was pretty high order thinking. I quickly added a discussion question to our Google Classroom: What house were your sorted into? Do you think it was a good fit? Why?

Even as they compared their answers and results, one of the items on the quiz was of particular concern to one boy. If Death offered you a reward for outsmarting him, which would you choose? The options were the Resurrection Stone, the Elder Wand, and the Invisibility Cloak.

"I would always pick the stone," he told several people, "because what if something happened to my mom? I would never want to live in this world without my mom!"

"You should tell her all about the quiz when you get home," I suggested. "I think she might like to hear about it!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

And... Action!

With a lesson that revisited action verbs and how their use might make a writing piece more powerful, it became clear that there was a gap in some students' understanding of that part of speech. We had read a wonderfully gross example of personal narrative by Jack Gantos, and so I asked them to pull out a few vivid verbs that they noticed, but after teaching the lesson twice, I knew that my right-after-lunch group that was heavy on boys and energy might not appreciate it fully. And so I enhanced it on the fly.

"Find a great verb in context," I directed them, "and then have your writing partner read the passage and pause as you act out the verb. Remember: verbs are actions!"

There was a buzz in the room as sixth grade writers revisited the story to find the perfect verb. A few hands waved, and when I went to see what they needed, their questions were very similar: How do I act out "puke-smelling" or "private" or "special"?

"You don't," I told them each, "because they're not action verbs."

"Ooooooooohhhhh," they answered, a glimmer of understanding shining in their brains.

See what I did there?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We All Look Alike

After a day at the corn maze and farm, the kids were a little punchy those last twenty minutes they sat in our classrooms waiting for dismissal. Everyone had a lovely little pie pumpkin, and some students occupied themselves with decorating theirs with markers. Once he had a silly face on his, one student turned his pumpkin to another's. "I'm so stupid I'm going to vote for Donald Trump," he had the pumpkin say.

"Hey now!" said the sixth grade counselor who happened to be standing by, "Tell your pumpkin that nobody's stupid here."

"Who are you going to vote for?" the student questioned her.

"I can't tell you," she said.

"Clinton," he shrugged.

"Teachers really are not allowed to tell you who we support in the election," I told him.

"Clinton," he said to me.

"Why do you think so?" I asked.

"Because you even look like her!" he answered. "You two could be sisters!"

Monday, October 24, 2016

There's the Difference

The whole sixth grade is going on a field trip tomorrow. It involves 346 kids, 40 adults, and both me and Heidi. Because she has been mostly 8th grade in the past, the two of us don't usually take the same field trips. And, since I'm in charge of packing lunches, it was only natural that she asked me what we were having. 

"I usually bring a ham sandwich," I told my vegan wife. "It packs well and tastes good as I stand there supervising a hundred children or so."

She frowned. I shrugged.

"I was planning on sending you with a roasted cauliflower wrap, though," I disclosed a little later than I could I have.

"Yum!" she said.

"And, we're going to stop at the grocery store on the way home," I continued.

"What for?" she asked.

"It's a field trip," I answered, "we have to have special snacks!"

When I was a kid, my mom packed our lunches full of delicious homemade food, but we did not always appreciate it. Instead of blond brownies, oatmeal cookies, and milk, I was looking for Tasty Kakes and soda pop. The one exception to our nutritious lunch rule was on field trip days. Then, we were allowed to pick a store-bought treat and a can of soda to take along with us. (The soda went in the freezer the night before where it became both beverage and ice block to keep everything else fresh and cool.) I always chose a cherry pie and cream soda, but I have to confess that they were never as good as I thought they would be, and it was kind of a relief to go back to my regular lunch the following day.

Even so, I carry the idea to this day that field trip lunches should be special, and so I always bring a sandwich, some fruit, a bag of store-bought cookies, and a big bag of chips. The last two are to share, both with kids who don't have any treats and some of those who do, because it brings people closer to actually share a meal.

I explained my philosophy to Heidi as we shopped, and she picked up a couple of bags of Milanos and some Fritos to go with my Biscoffs and Cape Cod waffle chips. When we got home I started to put those items aside, but she grabbed the Fritos and opened them up. "Hey!" I scolded her. "You can't have those! They're for the field trip!"

"Who says?" she answered crunching on her snack. "We have a whole bag!"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Probably Not

The Billy Goat Trail out in Great Falls, MD was kind of a rite of passage for our older nephews. Starting from the time they were toddlers, we frequently took them rock scrambling on the first part of the trail, gradually increasing the length of the hikes over the years until that magical day when they were ready to do the full circuit. But because dogs are not allowed on the trail, it's been thirteen years since Heidi and I have done the route ourselves, and so, continuing our practice of doing things we wouldn't do if we had a dog, we headed out there this morning.

Perhaps a beautiful Sunday in October was not the best time to revisit this particular old haunt; it is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the region, and the tow path was already packed at 11:30 when we turned our boots toward the trail head.

But, as we walked, conversations drifted through the air with the falling leaves.

I heard you're going Euro-skiing... 
The plane exploded at the neck... 
I sent my revisions in Friday...
He hasn't actually said he wouldn't accept the results...  
I think Shakespeare said it best...

And we heard so many languages along the way-- English and Spanish, of course, but lots of Italian, some German, Russian, Swedish, Chinese, Korean, Urdu, French, and I think Greek, too.

So we patiently scrambled along behind and beside and between our fellow hikers, enjoying the views that the slower pace gave us the chance to take in. People were mostly friendly, and we snapped a few group photos for folks as we waited to rock-hop across a congested section. 

The worst bottleneck of the day was at the famous 50 foot traverse. As we stood at the bottom waiting our turn to climb the granite wall from river to ridge, I looked up at the line ahead of us and back at the one behind us, and my patience began to thin.

"Oh my gosh!" I said to Heidi, "This must be what it's like to climb Everest!"

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Unexpected Behavior

Heidi teaches kids who are on the Autism spectrum, and so around here we talk a lot about social skills and social thinking. Two of the big buzz-phrases in that field these days are expected and unexpected behavior, which are used when talking to people who have difficulty reading social skills. The theory is that analyzing behavior and reactions to it in these terms allows those folks to intellectually process what others can do so intuitively.

Not surprisingly, Heidi also wanted to see the new movie The Accountant, in which Ben Affleck plays a guy on the spectrum, and we finally made it to the show this afternoon. It was a very entertaining movie! Mostly because of the plot twists, that to be honest?

I did not see coming.

Now that's unexpected behavior!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Calling Shotgun

A colleague I know slightly politely interrupted our CLT meeting this afternoon. "I have a question," she looked at me, "but it's personal, not professional. Do you mind if I take a minute?" she asked the other two teachers.

They nodded readily, and I could see they were intrigued, as I was also.

"How do you get to Buffalo?" she asked me, and I must have looked surprised, because she quickly continued, "Heidi says it's easy, but I should ask you."

My friend Mary laughed. "I'm sure Heidi does think it's easy! If you're her, you just get in the car and let Tracey drive you!"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back to Synecdoche

"Tell your partner how you got your name," the facilitator said. "Is there a story or significance behind it?"

I looked at my colleague. "Well," I told him, "my mom wanted to name me Marcy, but my dad grew up in upstate New York."

He frowned. I continued.

"Back then, the state psychiatric hospital was in a town called Marcy. So when he was a kid, "going to Marcy" was the equivalent of going crazy."

He nodded. I shrugged.

"And that's why my name is Tracey, not Marcy." What is that figure of speech called where the specific stands for the general? I thought. Marcy is totally an example of that.

"Where was your mom from?" he asked me.

"She grew up in Maryland, but she was born in..." I did a little double take to myself. "Schenectady!"

He looked confused. "She wasn't there long enough to know about Marcy," I told him, but my mind was elsewhere.

Schenectady, synecdoche?

I think I might be able to remember that!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Pen and the Sword

I would never say that I am an expert on the English language, but after 54 years of hearing it, 53 years of speaking it, 48 years of reading it, 12 years of learning it, 6 years of studying it, and 24 years of teaching it, I might call myself an experienced practitioner.

Even so, my spell check just told me to correct that last word from practionor. It happens! In fact, although I am able to address almost all of the grammatical and vocabulary needs of my sixth graders, I am unfamiliar with at least a third of my word-of-the-day calendar entries, and sometimes, when researching resources to use in my class I find myself in a little bit of deep water.

Oh, I can tread away, dear reader, but one must recognize her deficits if one expects to improve. Take the term synecdoche, for example. The first time I came across it on a list of figurative language devices, I had no idea how to pronounce it (sin-eck'-doh-key), much less what it meant. Once I learned that it was the practice of representing something by one of its a parts, like Washington, for the U.S. government, John Hancock for a signature, or suits for guys in charge, I understood the term, but I'll be darned if I can remember it to use in conversation.

It's on the tip of my tongue, though.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Just Called to Say...

My phone rang unexpectedly at around 4:30 this afternoon. It was my 8-year-old niece on facetime, and I punched the accept button right away.

"Hey!" I said. "What's going on?"

"I called you..." she paused, "well, just because I wanted to!" she told me.

"That's awesome!" I said. "I'm still at school," I sighed, looking at the stack of papers I was going through to put in my gradebook. "How are you? How was school for you today?"

"I'm fine!" she answered. "It was good!"

"How's the puppy?" I asked.

"Good!" she smiled.

"What about the weather?"

"Really nice!" she nodded. "Oh well, if you're at work, I'll let you go!"

"Okay," I agreed. "Thank you so much for calling! I miss you!"

"I miss you too!" she said. "I'll talk to you soon!"

"Love you!" we both said as she hung up.

Monday, October 17, 2016

No Purchase Necessary

I confess that at times I dream of striking it rich in some implausible, the-odds-are-totally-against-me, kind of way. That's why I opened the email from PCH tonight. I'll just scroll-click scroll-click scroll-click right through, I told myself. And who knows? In a month or so? I may have 10,000 bucks a week coming in. Wouldn't that be fun for Christmas?

But that's where those marketing geniuses see me coming! On the very first page I had to stop and take a closer look at an item.

      Transform your toilet into a soft, gentle night light!

      Bowl Light™
      Fits most toilets!
      Adjustable Brightness/Adjustable Dimmer
      Say goodbye to glaring bathroom lights in the middle of the night!

      Motion-activated LED light automatically casts a soft glow
      The soft light doesn’t wake you up and turns off automatically after 45 seconds!
      Set to one of your 7 favorite colors — red, green, purple, aqua, yellow, white and blue
      Color-Cycle Mode automatically changes to next color for each use!

      Requires 3 "AAA" batteries, not included. Made of abs plastic, polyethylene,
      pvc, tpr rubber, silicone, wiring. Measures 2.05" L x 2.56" W x 4.13" H.
      Bowl light™ will only turn on when in a dark room. Please consult instructions prior to use.

      4 PAYMENTS EACH ONLY$3

No way! I thought.

And no way! it was as well for the Bacon Boss, the Handy Heater, and the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner. In fact, the more I saw, the easier it got it to just scroll and click. 

And now? 

I am in it to win it!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Flipping Out

Over the years a lot of crazes have swept the sixth grade. Back in 1973, when I was in sixth grade, everybody wanted Duncan yo-yo's and Wacky Package stickers. Twenty years later, when I first started teaching, it was baggy pants, slap bracelets, and gigapets. Ten years after that there were heelys, iPods, and silly bandz. Today? Flipping water bottles is the go-to.

Why not? We encourage kids to stay hydrated, and that means a water bottle in every hand. Drink half, and then accept the challenge to land that baby upright on...

the floor,
the desk,
your binder,
the floor, through your pants
and so forth

What's a teacher to do?

Just walk the dog, pull up your pants, roll on over to that group of kids, grab the water bottle, flip it into the trash can, and start your class.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Phantom Dog Pain

Our neighbor's away this weekend and we are caring for her dog. Lady is a little temperamental: for example, she chose not to stay at our house last night. Instead she stood by the door and beamed us a message through her one good eye, something like, Why would I sleep in this house? I can practically smell my bed from here. 

To be honest, that makes her even easier to look after, especially since she and our cat are not on speaking terms. I just walked through the courtyard to take her out this morning, and as I opened the front door, she hopped down from the couch and stretched. I clipped her collar and leash on and we headed up the stairs and across the parking lot to the wooded hill. I had made the same trip a thousand times with Isabel, but this was the first time I had made it with a dog since we lost her.

And that made me really sad.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Problem Solved

Give a kid an iPad, and he'll be able to catch his own dinner.

That's pretty much the theory behind our district's one to one initiative. For the last three years every 2nd and 6th grader has received an ipad, and every 9th grader has been issued a Macbook Air. As teachers? Our instructions have pretty much been, Use the devices to enhance instruction, but be sure to give the students some latitude to innovate.

I get that philosophy. I may be an immigrant to this brave new digital world, but I like to think I have assimilated quite well. And although it's tempting to focus on the inappropriate of the innovations (accessing non-school material during class, airdropping all manner of things to other people within Bluetooth range, and finding several ingenious ways around our school restrictions, to name a very few), let me tell you: those kids impress me with their creative uses of their devices all the time.

Why just today, a group of students was doing a skit for reading. "Do you have a speaker?" one of them asked me.

"You can hook up to that one," I told her, but one of the other girls in the group waved me off. "Never mind," she said, "we can use our iPads."

And what they did next was kind of amazing. Their sketch took place in the woods, so all three students pulled up audio of birds and then placed their devices in different places in the room. The skit was pretty good, but the surround sound was stunning.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Identity Crisis

Student after student raised a hand in my reading class this morning. They were working on a standard read-and-answer-the-questions assignment from a text book (Oh! I know what you're thinking! BUT we will do something cool with it tomorrow!), and the same question was stumping reader after reader. Why does the author use the pronoun I throughout the story? 

I was shocked to discover that none of them was familiar with the term pronoun, but I made a note to return to that concern later and quickly explained what a pronoun is so that they could answer the question.

One guy was even more confused by my explanation, though. Wait!" he interrupted me. "How is backslash a pronoun?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Makes the Dream Work

We are implementing a new writing program this year, and it has been haaaard work. The upside is that I agree with the philosophy, which makes a mandate considerably less onerous, but it is really hard to tailor one's teaching to somebody else's vision (especially after 23 years!). Still, I soldier on, and it is a blessing to be working in this endeavor with a colleague I like and respect. (Hi Mary!)

I thanked my lucky stars for her yesterday when I was suffering from a crisis of faith and feeling overwhelmed and unsuccessful. After giving me a little pep talk, we talked through our plan for today, and she created a crucial piece of the lesson.

AND... I was happy to return the favor this afternoon when following a great lesson, I was able to clearly see the road ahead and talk her through it.

Now that's a collaborative learning team.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Holiday Mash-up

A Jewish friend of mine has a birthday tomorrow.

In all her years, she told me recently, her birthday has never coincided with Yom Kippur. "They're both great," she said, "but I'm not really excited about it."

"Really?" I asked her. "What's not exciting about the words Happy Birth Day of Atonement?"

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ten Miles

There is no upside to losing your dog, but Heidi and I agreed that in the time before we get another puppy, we will try to do things we might have otherwise skipped because they didn't make sense to do with a dog. So it was in that spirit that late this morning we set off on a walk from our house to Old Town Alexandria, about 3 1/2 miles away.

It was a perfect fall day, and once there we had brunch and shopped our way down to the river and back. We told ourselves we would Uber home if we needed to, but in the end we just kept on going, and in 22,000 steps, all told, we were back home.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Leftovers

"What are we going to have for dinner tonight?" Heidi asked a little earlier.

I paused to think about it a minute. "I don't know," I shook my head. "I already cooked everything yesterday!"

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Small Plates

The day dawned gray and rainy, but honestly? I didn't care! It was the first day of a long weekend and I had plans to do some serious cooking-- tonight was Emily's family birthday party. I chopped and diced and seared and braised and blended and baked and steamed and pureed and strained and whisked and sliced and stewed and finally, when the rain let up, charred my way merrily through the day before sitting down at the table with Heidi and Emily and Bill and Victor to a very nice meal, if I do say so myself.

Small Plates Menu:

Warm Olives
Feta
Moroccan Yogurt Dip with Cilantro
Ciabbata and Pita Chips
Beet Carpaccio with Dill and Walnuts
Charred Octopus with Potato Pepper Puree and Tapenade
Braised Lamb Shank with Mustard Marscapone Sauce
Seared Tuna Shawarma with Pickles, Turnips, and Tahini 
Rice and Lentil Pilaf with Currants
Stewed Green Beans
Roasted Cauliflower

Dessert:

Baklava Cheesecake
Pistachio Toffee Chocolates

Friday, October 7, 2016

Small Moment

The interpreter arrived a little early for my next conference, and since there was nobody else in my room, I invited him in to wait. He was a friendly guy; introducing himself as Julio, he walked around the perimeter of my classroom as if it were a gallery.

"Look for small moments?" he read from an anchor chart, and then gazing up he read from the banner above, "How can we become better writers?"

"I love writing," he told me, "and this is good advice. There is so much meaning in the small moments."

I nodded agreeably, "That's what I tell the students."

"Do you mind if I take a picture?" he asked.

"Not at all," I answered.

He moved to a poster with an Ethiopian proverb. "When spider webs unite," he read, "they can tie up a lion!" He snapped another photo and turned to me. "What a fantastic message for your students! Small things together create greatness."

"Thanks, Julio!" I replied.

Next he read the series of posters from the Academy of American Poets that hang over the bookshelves in my room. Each April the organization releases a new one in honor of National Poetry month. "Nature is a haunted house," he read as he clicked another picture, "but art is a house that wants to be haunted."

"Emily Dickinson," I said.

"Wonderful!" he said. "It goes perfectly with the small things and small moments idea. Think how many miracles we overlook every day! You are teaching your students to stop and notice them, to see all the miracles all around them!"

Am I? I wondered and looked at another quote I had scribbled nearby.

Hope is a thing with feathers.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Da Nada

I admit that I was a little cranky this afternoon as I waited well after my contract hours for my first conference of the year. The halls were deserted and the light from the sinking sun was slanting into the west-facing windows when my student and her mom tapped on the door.

The fact is, teachers often suffer from a lack of professional respect. If I can't find a convenient time within the office hours of my doctor, lawyer, accountant, or dog groomer that works with the hours of my job, then I must take time off. If it's important, then I do. But teachers are often not afforded the same professional courtesy. We are frequently guilted into over-committing our own time because it is what's best for the students. And sometimes it undeniably is, but other times it's just a matter of your convenience over mine.

So anyway, there I was tonight, guiding an extremely poised 12-year-old as she explained her grades, study skills self-evaluation, academic goals, and community service interests to her mom, switching back and forth between Spanish and English for our benefit. All I did was answer some questions, encourage the student to stay after school for some math help, and compliment her on her achievements so far.

When the student got to the end of her checklist, the part that says Thank your parents for coming, she turned to her mother and said, "Gracias Mami!" And then she turned to me and said, "Thank-you for staying after school."

"You're welcome," I answered, and I really meant it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Getting it Done

The assistant principal and director of guidance were standing by the door after school this afternoon just as I was busting out of one meeting trying to get halfway across the county to another in 12 minutes.

"Good luck with your presentation!" one of them called, and I must have made some kind of sour face when I thanked her, because she continued, "You'll be great!" and gave me a thumbs up.

Truth be told, my mind was elsewhere. On a day in the middle of a week that includes preparing sixth graders for their first student-led conferences, finalizing interim grades, planning for a major schedule change and additional class prep, stuffing all the business of an interdisciplinary team into 2 45-minute periods, and oh yeah, teaching, assessing, and planning, I was already way past worrying about that particular commitment.

"I know!" I waved as I pushed through the double doors toward the parking lot.

"I like a person with confidence!" I heard behind me as I went.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

#Hashtag

One of the strategies we learned this summer to help young writers get to the heart of their personal narratives in terms of message, meaning, and why the story matters was to have them hashtag it. "Kids are familiar with that!" our instructor told us, and we agreed.

Well, this week I have had some #amusing conversations with my #sixthgraders. Understandably, not so many of them are even on social media, and so the concept is not quite as ingrained in them as perhaps originally presumed. #jumpingtoconclusions

The more concrete thinkers among them want to use the hashtag as a simple label, and that is completely understandable. #shouldaseenitcoming For example, a picture of a goldfish yielded #goldfish, #pet, #Nemo (with a sharp rebuke from the other students) and #thesnackthatsmileback.

"What about #dinner?" I asked.

"EW!" they answered.

"Don't you mean #ew!" I asked.

"Unless you're a cat!" someone suggested. And she was right, because hashtags certainly reveal your perspective.

Even so, most folks have kind of gotten away from the hashtag as a tool for thematic connection, and now it is really more of a witty addendum to a tweet or snapchat.

And yet the exercise of generating several quick labels for my own writing pieces really paid off. Like the kids, I started with the obvious, but with free association, I generally found the heart of my piece by the 3rd or 4th hashtag. To be honest, it was almost therapeutic.

For a sketch I'd written about an environmental club my sixth grade teachers started that was invitation only and which I had not been invited to join. I started with #stupidclub, moved on to #that'snot fair, and finally ended with #whynotme? And I realized that the reason it still bothered me after 43 years was because there is a part of me that assumes that I was rightfully rejected and still wonders why I wasn't good enough.

Hashtag that.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Slam It!

I must have spent a solid thirty minutes out by the car yesterday slamming and opening and re-slamming the back hatch. It just would not latch! I emptied the rear, moved the liner mat, and then removed it all together, used my electronic fob to mess with it, and when that didn't work, used the key itself to push the mechanism in and out of position. No luck! Activating the car alarm gave me the the three beep warning that something was ajar, as did the dash control panel. At last I gave up and returned inside to Google the problem, where I found that, according to the internet, this had never happened to anyone else, ever.


Whoa! An hour in, I knew I had to make a repair appointment, which I did this afternoon. The guy at the place I usually go for inspections and oil changes was polite, but there was just a hint of skepticism in his voice as we arranged for me to drop the car off after work. And when I walked in and told him who I was, his eyes lit up. "I've been waiting for you!" he told me. "Do you mind if I just go out there and have a crack at it?"

I shrugged. "Sure." I wished he could fix it right then, but I doubted he would.

He was back inside a minute, shaking his head. "Wow," he said. "That's a first for me!"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Original

Oh! You have to see the original first! is what several people told us when we mentioned an interest in the remake of The Magnificent Seven.

We like to think of ourselves as movie buffs, and so we took that advice and cued up the 1948 classic, sitting down to watch it last night. In the opening scene, a gang of banditos descends upon a hard-working village. Their leader arrogantly mocks the citizens, justifying his outrageous trespass as their weakness, and promising to return when the next harvest is in.

"Oh my gosh!" I turned to Heidi. "He's Hopper from A Bug's Life!" We continued to watch as citizens from the besieged community went out to look for heros to save them (ala A Bug's Life), bringing back a collection of misfits (as in A Bug's Life) who ultimately help the village realize that they have it within themselves to be their own saviors (just like in A Bug's Life) all the while rescuing the rescuers themselves (also in A Bug's Life).

As for the original? Once the loooooooong opening credits were over, it was hard to believe that the movie was almost 70 years old, and it distracted me to think that nearly every single person I saw on the screen was dead now. Then there was the Bug's Life thing, which was also rather distracting.

Even so,  I'm happy to have that frame of reference, and I'll be interested to compare all three movies!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

That Restorative Elixer

On a rainy day and suffering from some sinus congestion, I did what I had to do...

made chicken noodle soup!

I'm sure I'll be 100% in no time.